Author Spotlight Q&A: Jordan Tricklebank

Jordan Tricklebank

Jordan Tricklebank (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Mahuta) is the curator of Māori Literature Blog, a dedicated exploration of literature written in English by Māori authors of the 20th and 21st centuries. He is also the creator and editor of Pūhia, a literary journal that showcases literature and art by Māori creators. Jordan was a recipient of the 2023 Verb Micro Residency, and facilitated events at the festival. Jordan’s writing has been awarded at the Pikihuia Awards, featured in The Pantograph Punch, Newsroom, and Huia Short Stories.


Congratulations on the recent publication of Pūhia Rua, a fresh new literary journal which aims to broadcast emerging and established Māori voices. What inspired you to start Pūhia? What are you hoping to achieve through Pūhia?

I was initially inspired by other contemporary lit journals: stuff like Starling, Bad Apple, Sweet Mammalian etc. One of my good friends Grace founded the queer lit journal Overcom, and I pretty much saw that grow from just an idea to what it is today – so I felt like I had some understanding of getting something like this off the ground!

I was also inspired by some older publications, especially in terms of aesthetics. At one point I was thinking of doing a full-on Te Ao Hou-esque pastiche, with little illustrations and crosswords and all that, but it ended up going in a different direction. I’d love Pūhia to maintain a solid presence for years to come, and be a place for emerging and established writers to know that they can find an audience.


What was it like to hold Pūhia in your hands for the first time?

Holding the initial test copy of the first issue was really exciting! It was great seeing Te Kahuwhero Alexander-Tu’inukuafe’s cover art in printed form, and there’s something cool about having a hand in the creation of a physical ‘thing’. It was also a very humbling moment though, because when I looked inside I realised that I’d kind of mucked up the margins and quite a few pieces were being swallowed up in the spine! Definitely a learning experience. You’ll notice that the inside margins of Pūhia Rua are huge.


Pūhia provides space for works by emerging and established writers to sit alongside one another. What advice do you have for emerging writers who are new to submitting to publications?

It’s a real cliché, but it’s true: Just take the plunge, submit and see what happens. Starting Pūhia has really made me appreciate the fact that it’s just another human reading your submission on the other end. And don’t change your voice to match what you feel a publication is into – it’s probably just as likely that they’ll respond to something that feels different or fresh.


In addition to showcasing kaituhi Māori, Pūhia also showcases visual artists. How challenging is it to find visual and written works that compliment each other?

I think this is something that I thought about more the second time round, and to be honest I kinda just go off base vibes. Like I thought the softer watercolour tones of Kathryn’s Kowhai piece worked nicely alongside Jessica’s poem about love, for example. And the black and grey of the opening piece by Te Kahuwhero seemed to reflect the ‘moon’ imagery of Isla’s poem. Yeah, I basically come up with these snap associations and go from there! I have received so much excellent art, and it’s a lot of fun figuring out where to put it all.


Which work by a Māori author have you read lately that you loved and what did you love about it?

Not very far in yet, but am currently reading The Parihaka Album by Rachel Buchanan and it’s great so far. I remember reading something by Hana Pera Aoake (pretty sure it was them?) about how personal it feels for a work of ‘history’, and it absolutely does. It feels a bit ahead of its time in that sense? I’ve also been interested in Cathie Dunsford’s Cowrie recently.

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